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‘Big Hero 6’: Disney Grabs the Marvel Superhero Holy Grail

'Big Hero 6': Disney Grabs the Marvel Superhero Holy Grail

It even shares a common theme with “Guardians”: the loss of a loved one as social misfits team up to thwart a mysterious baddie. Significantly, though, the core relationship between teenage Hiro and huggable robot, Baymax, is funny as well as poignant. So much so that Big Hero 6 should be a big Oscar contender in what’s shaping up to be the most wide open race in years.

Achieving breakthroughs in animation, VFX, and rendering, Disney tackles a rich, anime-inspired CG look (as always, with a hand-drawn foundation)m has built another ambitious world with its futuristic mash-up of San Francisco and Tokyo (San Fransokyo), and populates it with more diverse characters than ever.

“You have a certain expectation of what a Disney animated should be but at the same time you want to see something new,” admits director Don Hall (who directed with Chris Williams), who found a new kind of Disney adventure full of action and pathos with the relatively obscure Marvel property. “We are carrying that legacy forward, and like the great Disney movies, we want to have a timeless quality, but we can’t let that limit us. We have to be able to do things you’ve never seen before.”

For Hall, the journey was about coalescing all of these disparate elements but even then it didn’t come together until the theme about loss became the thread. “Early on in the story, we meet Hiro where he’s a young genius — he’s so talented and has so much potential, but he’s squandering his gifts and Tadashi [his older brother] really wants him to get his act together and use his talents more constructively. And that gets him on the right path [when Hiro invents revolutionary microbotic tech]. And then when Hiro loses his older brother, there’s a danger that he’ll regress and Baymax is there to continue to be that mentor and that guide that Hiro needs at a formative age. They form the center of the movie, they’re a great comedic pair, but there’s also a great emotional story that we track through the movie.”

After Hiro’s invention takes a dark turn, he enlists four other tech-savvy teenagers to join Baymax and him in protecting their city: adrenaline junkie Go Go Tomago, neatnik Wasabi, chemistry whiz Honey Lemon, and fanboy Fred. But as co-director Williams points out, these characters don’t have superpowers. “They are normal people who are really smart and have access to super high-tech. I wanted to ground it in a certain reality. Go Go racing around on wheels is much better pulled off in animation than live-action where you’re able to caricature it more. You get your superhero fix but we’re able to pare things down to a more simple truth in animation: an action scene is crystallized down to its most awesome form or an acting choice is well observed.”

In researching robotics, the team was inspired by the soft robotics research at Carnegie Mellon. This became the inspiration for Baymax. “You don’t know what you’re going to find on these research trips and we knew that Baymax was going to be this vinyl healthcare provider and we wanted to make him very simple,” Hall explains. “I knew that we didn’t want him to have a lot of bells and whistles. We were wandering around Tokyo and saw this bell, which just looked like a very pleasant face to me. These two circles separated by a line felt like the perfect, permanent expression on Baymax.”

Read the rest of the article at Animation Scoop.

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